harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

movie reviewed: Grave of the Vampire (p1 of 2)


Grave of the Vampire

Starring: William Smith, Michael Pataki
DIR: John Hayes

Blurb: A vampire rises from the grave and, after coming across a young couple, kills the man and rapes the woman. The woman eventually gives birth to a part-human, part-vampire child that feeds upon her blood that she provides to him.

Years later, the now adult human-vampire hybrid son sets out to track down his vampire father, seeing revenge for the curse he bestowed upon him.

A Note: I had meant to FINALLY review 'Death Warmed Up' which was supposed to be my next movie review forever-ago. So, imagine my extreme annoyance with Mill Creek's usual quality included a sound mix so low, I can't hear a frickin' thing. And, naturally, there are no subtitles. Because, cheaper.

I don't know if it's in the public copyright, but I feel like I've paid for the movie, so I'm less guilty feeling about finding it online. But for right now, we'll enjoy this film.

Scene 01: We open during credits on a graveyard's sarcophagous.

Over sounds of the wind, and what I'm assuming is a slow heartbeat, we circle the grave. We can see that this is the supposed-to-be-final resting place of Croft. We hear hoarse, heavy breathing as fog surrounds the tomb in defiance of the wind on the soundtrack.

Stare at fog draped crypt; heavy breathing, slow heartbeat/drumbeat... stare, stare, stare.

[WHAT?! We stared forever at the grave our vampire will be rising from, and then cut away before he actually opens it?! OH, F-You.]

Scene 02: We skip to the outside of a large house, where the sounds of a party are emanating. From the home, Paul and his girlfriend(?) leave to "take a drive", leaving behind the heckling of Paul's freind.

Scene 03: Back at the cemetery, the tomb is where we left it, along with the fog. The wind however has taken its leave, and the mysterious heartbeat/drumbeat went with it.

The lid of the sarcophogas is tentatively raised by someone within [perhaps a vampire named Caleb Croft, but that's a total shot in the dark on my part].

Just as this is starting to happen, Paul and Leslie arrive. They're tipsy and [badly]laughy around the vampire's grave. Paul stops Leslie's [horribly fake] laughing by laying a kiss on her. She accuses him of bringing her tonight specifically because he thinks they're going to have sex, though she says so coquettishly. He denies that is the reason they're there.

Leslie points out that she caught Paul peeking at her while she was changing her dress, but Paul points out that he was peeping, she just happened to have not closed her door. She giggles at him. [It's nauseating. Plus Mill Creek's aversion to doing any clean up work is making it hard to catch all of the dialog.]

There is more mutual [horribly fake] laughing.

Commentary: Okay. I know that the 70's had a slower pace in general, and I know that cheap b-movies [uh, possibly c-grade, we'll have to see] needed to fill out run time with inexpensive dialog over action, but these two are painful, even awkward. I'm not sure that they aren't just winging it while waiting for Michael Pataki to finally hit his mark. Since Paul is clearly the doomed male, we're spending too much time on Jay Scott's non-character.

Even worse though, is Anne Arthur is one of our main characters, so I thought that this was the woman who was with Paul. It isn't until after the entire attack, 14 minutes in, that we discover she's Leslie... WhoDaF??

So, apparently Kitty Vallachar is not going to be playing the major character, despite taking up so much time at the beginning. And forcing me to go and do a lot of name replacing, to boot.

Scene 04: The tomb lid is still struggling to open over the vampire. But finally we see the monster coming out of his resting place. Thankfully, the sarcophagus lid is on a hinge, so the top doesn't fall to the ground with a mighty crash and scare his prey away.

Our vampire is shockingly old and decrepit looking. And he was buried with a tarantula, and a lizard for unexplained reasons. He struggles to come to full consciousness.

Commentary: Okay, I liked that bit. It was a nice touch to show the vampire hasn't been out and about by making him degraded by the however-much-time without blood. The "creepy" arachnid and reptile was silly, but I liked Croft being covered in webbing showing his long stay. Now, if we'd get an explanation as to why he's coming around now rather than before, it might be nice. It isn't because of people making noise in his graveyard, because he was clearly coming around before Paul and Leslie arrived.

Scene 05: Paul chose to bring Leslie out here not for sex, but for a marriage proposal. [I think the broken up dialog earlier was mentioning that this was where Paul and Leslie met... which is very weird. And still doesn't make coming out to a cemetery in the middle of the night to propose any less off-putting.]

Leslie accepts this unconventional proposal, and establishes that she is an orphan but her parents left her a boarded up house that she hasn't been using, in response to his worry about not making a lot of money to get them started on their new life.

They hear the sound of the tomb lid, but Paul just laughs that they're not the only ones out there.

Scene 06: Back at the casket, Croft is still struggling to get up and move.

He starts to climb out of the tomb to go hunting/exploring.

Scene 07: Back with Paul [in his unfortunate square-butt trousers] and Leslie, they're still putzing [awkwardly].

Paul leads Leslie to the backseat of his jalopy [are we sure this wasn't a 60s film?], with his intent to bang being obvious. Leslie allows this, and Paul slams the door shut behind them, as they begin making out.

Scene 08: Back with Croft, he's finally standing.

With our couple, they lock the back doors.

With Croft, he wanders in the direction of the car, with the heavy fog wrapped around him.

Scene 09: Paul and Leslie make out with her managing a sigh of contentment/turn-on despite Paul's mouth covering hers.

He undoes her top button and slips his hand inside of her dress to rub her upper chest suggestively. They're too engrossed to notice that a cob-webby old man is perving on them.

After Paul and Leslie moan a bit and then get back to their deep kissing, Caleb finally decides to intervene [as clearly the clothes are never going to get around to coming off, and he's as bored with this couple as I... thank you, Croft!].

He tears the door off of its hinges to Paul's shock and Leslie's mild consternation. Leslie "no, no, no's" a bit, while Paul is manhandled by Caleb. Croft beats Paul to death, while Leslie sits in shock, before falling out of the car and onto the ground. She watches in horror as Paul is slammed over a headstone, breaking his back. Somehow in the struggle, Paul's neck was also sliced open.

Caleb stalks over to him slowly and then turns his head enough to access his neck. He bites down hard on Paul's throat.

Leslie continues to protest, but is unable to force herself to run as she watches her fiance get killed. It takes a gruesome amount of time for Caleb to finish off Paul.

Commentary: I liked it! It's so uncommon for a male victim of a male vampire to not be killed instantly. The death of Paul is drawn out, with Michael Pataki grabbing Jay by the hair and really being gusto in his acting of Caleb tearing into Paul's neck. It was an unexpectedly intense and well done attack.

Kitty's acting is problematic at first. Her EMOTING isn't working, until the attack on Paul is finished and then she's acting more in paralyzed shock. I was wondering why she wasn't running, but then I remembered that real people often freeze up when there is a sudden explosion of unexpected violence. I could totally buy that Leslie didn't get a chance to grasp that she had to run to survive until it was far too late.

Scene 10: With Paul's death right in front of her, Leslie is too much in shock to move as the vampire rushes over to her. He grabs her arm and to her protests, drags her into an open grave nearby. With a final scream, Leslie is dragged out of site into the grave.

Scene 11: Some time later, hours presumably, as the sun rises, Caleb seeks shelter in a basement apartment of a home nearby. He hunkers down in a corner, and panicking now at the brightening day, grabs a drop cloth to cover up against the light.

Scene 12: We move to a hospital that same morning, where a grim looking man carries a file into a hospital room.

This is Lieutenant Panzer, who has caught the case of Leslie's attack and Paul's murder. He's meeting with Zack, a homeless drunk who discovered Leslie and got medical help for her. He reports, again, that he was passed out near the cemetery. He heard a woman scream, and then tried to fall back asleep, but the sun was bright so he couldn't. He got up and started the day wandering. He saw Paul horribly murdered. Then he saw another man climb out of an open grave and run off. Curious, he looked into the grave, and that was when he found the girl lying there, her dress pulled all the way up.

That's when he ran for help, yelling and yelling until he could find somebody.

Weirdly, [Eric] focuses in on Zack's testimony on when the man was running from the grave, if the sun was fully risen yet. But Old Zack can't remember for sure.

He's released to go, but Panzer asks him not to disappear for the next several days.

Scene 13: Sergeant Duffy confronts Lieutenant Panzer about letting Zach walk, suggesting that Zack may've been so drunk out of his mind, he flipped out and killed "the kids" [Please. Neither Jay or Kitty could be termed 'kids' by anyone who isn't as least as old as Old Zach. And just as a note, this is another film where first names are being taken from the actors for our cops, because the characters don't get names. Yes, Panzer is played by Ernesto but he was credited as Eric, so that's what I'm going with. The Sergeant will be using the name, Will].

Eric insists that Zach is harmless and points out that Paul was drained of blood, and even Will has to admit that he was barely cut up. Panzer asks where the blood was, but Duffy counters that the man could've been killed elsewhere and then dragged to the graveyard [which seems like a lot of work for a homeless drunk in a rage to go through].

Eric says he could be right, but is generally dismissive. Sergeant Duffy grouches at Panzer that he's been shooting down his theories all morning, and he's getting a little tired of Panzer's attitude. He goes through the facts that they know to this point, including the missing corpse from the sarcophagus nearby.

Will suggests starting to ask some questions around the nearby school campus for any weirdos hanging around, which Eric doesn't have a problem with, though his hangdog expression doesn't evince much confidence in it turning up anything solid.

Commentary: Okay, this could be interesting if Will and Eric don't really get along, but they end up working together when things turn wildly improbable and supernatural.

I can say that 'Eric Mason'/Ernesto Macias and William Guhl are already doing better acting work with one another than Kitty and Jay managed, despite the latter characters being more intimately involved with one another.

Scene 14: In a hospital room, Leslie is left to try to deal with the trauma of the previous night's events.

Nearby, the doctor speaks quietly to our police, confirming that their alive-victim was sexually assaulted. They ask to speak with her, which the doctor allows under his observation. In the meantime, everything is being listened in on by Leslie's roommate as well.

They use flash cards, hoping Lez will recognize her attacker. Across the room, Olga notices Lez' difficulty with holding it together and demands she be allowed to rest but the doctor shushes her so the menfolk can be about their important work.

As Eric is flipping through his index cards, he slips one from his inside jacket pocket. As soon as Lez sees it, she starts hyperventilating. The doctor quickly intervenes and insists that Leslie needs rest.

Scene 15: Eric leads Will to the doctor's office, where Will asks whose picture she reacted to. Eric tells him that it is a picture of the man who is now the missing corpse!

Panzer tells his Sergeant that Caleb Croft had a record before his death for rape. Eric goes on to tell Will that in Boston, Caleb was caught but briefly escaped custody. The police chased him into the subway system, where Croft stepped on the third rail and was fatally electrocuted. The body was shipped back to their local cemetery, about three years ago.

Will, as you may understand, struggles to understand what the missing corpse would have to do with their murder and rape. He suggests that maybe the boyfriend raped Leslie and she's trying to give them the runaround about it, but Eric wonders if Will also thinks that Paul then committed suicide by running backward into a gravestone. Will obvs doesn't see what Eric is trying to get at, and is again pissily letting it be known that he doesn't think Eric's good reputation on the force is well deserved.

Duffy now raises his voice even higher, confirming that Eric is suggesting that a rapist got killed three years ago by electrocution, and then managed to get out of his grave now and go on a murder/rape spree! Will warns Eric that he'll lose his job and his pension with such crazy suggestions. Eric assures Will he's convinced him, but doesn't seem to be all that sincere, and William doesn't believe him.

Commentary: And I'm having trouble believing this conversation as well! WTF?! Unless it turns out that Eric has actually fought a vampire at some point in his hidden past, this entire development is stupid and inane. And even if that is the case, and it just hasn't been revealed yet -- It's ridiculous that Eric wouldn't deflect by suggesting that he actually showed Leslie the photograph to see if the missing corpse and the murder/rape were connected, rather than two incidents that just happened to come together in their preliminary investigation.

Then he could go on to suggest that they're seeking a nutter who has a fascination with the occult, for why else drag a corpse into the grisly happenings. Either taking out his out-of-left-field suggestion he thinks supernatural hijinks are afoot already, or letting Duffy run with the psycho-occultist angle while he does in fact play the role of Kolchak, The Night Stalker-lite.

Either way, where this scene was left is ridiculous! Duffy would be meeting with their captain, and Panzer would be on administrative leave before the day was out.

Scene 16: That night, Leslie is having nightmares in her hospital bed. Olga gets out of bed to sit at her side and stroke her hair, telling her she's safe. Olga and Leslie form a quick bond.

Scene 17: Elsewhere, presumably in the home that our vampire a took shelter in, and woman is cooking in the kitchen while listening to a radio play of a horror/thriller bent. The radio program is a schlocky tale of a madman kidnapping a woman to drain her of her blood.

In the basement, Caleb stirs.

In the kitchen, housewife's spidersense tingles as she stares at the door to downstairs with dread.

The woman goes down into the basement, where Caleb stands... summoning her?

Our housewife searches the basement, but it's dark and extremely cluttered and she sees nothing. Rather than returning upstairs, she continues into a literally lightless corner of the basement. [Okay, seriously, does she just have a spidersense for dangerous stalkers in a dark corner of the basement (Paired with no survival sense, which is unfortunate.)? There was no noise to draw her attention over the radio program she was engrossed in, and if Caleb was using a summon-victim psychic power, then why not be standing there waiting for her? This isn't making sense.]

So, Housewife goes into the literally lightless corner, where she gulps air in fear. Caleb then lets his presence be known by lighting a few matches near her face and staring his withered old face into hers before tossing the matches away, plunging them both back into utter darkness. There is screaming, but Housewife's attempt to get up the stairs goes awry when the vampire grabs her ankles.

There is a neck snap, and then Caleb grabs a handsized pick hammer to bash her enough for some blood.

Commentary: This could've almost been a chilling screen, if not for the weird way it was put together. The interesting thing about our vampire, is that the fangs themselves are never uses as the instrument of death. It's a bit weird to even have fangs, if they can't use them properly, but I guess some vampire tropes are not to be ignored.

Scene 18: Sometime later, Leslie is ready to be released and Olga makes a special case of also leaving with her at the same time. The doctor wants to speak to Leslie alone for a few minutes, which puts Olga up in arms over being asked to step out, after "caring for [her] 24 hours a day". But Leslie tells her that it's alright, she'll be right with her in a moment.

Olga apparently strongly disapproves of the sedatives that the doctor has proscribed to Leslie as well, mentioning to the doctor that pills had killed her husband.

Commentary: God, what is happening with these characters? What is the deal with Olga's creepy intensity in "looking after" Leslie? And what about the intense personal issues between Eric and Will? And Eric's very immediate consideration that they're looking for a supernatural corpse as assailant? A random victim lady who senses evil in the basement, and then wanders into a pitch black corner with not even a flashlight? And our vampire (so far) only seen sucking on our male victim's neck?

There are so many odd emphasis going on in these scenes.

Oh, and since I'm asking: Why does EVERY SINGLE WOMAN have bags under their eyes, like they're not being allowed to sleep at all during filming?

Scene 19: The doctor has kept Leslie for a moment to discuss her blood work. The doctor reveals that Leslie is definitely pregnant. Alas for Leslie, her horror continues. The doctor shocks her by suggesting an immediate abortion.

He explains that tests show that the baby isn't alive. Although her body is supplying the foetus with blood, and it's growing, there is no heartbeat [Um. I don't think this hospital knows how pre-term baby's work. Leslie cannot have stayed in the hospital long enough for a heartbeat to even be listened for, not without showing this far back].

Leslie insists that's ridiculous, that she and Paul were both healthy so nothing is wrong with her baby. There can't be.

She declines forcefully letting the doctors any where near her baby and cries out for Olga's help.

Scene 20: Later that night, Leslie and Olga are delivered by taxi. The night is foggy again. They're joined unexpectedly by Eric on the sidewalk. Olga tells him to get lost. Leslie wonders why the detective is still working so hard at this case [Uh -- offscreen, he's been very busy and keeping her apprised], when everyone else has written it off as an unsolved case. He promises that he'll find her attacker, as Olga takes her by the arm and leads her to a humongous house.

Across the foggy night, Panzer spots a suspicious character dawdling and watching him and the two women.

The figure moves off and we see that it is Caleb Croft, looking much younger now.

Seeing the strange watcher getting into a car, Eric rushes to his in order to follow his observer.

Scene 21: Eric follows behind Caleb as the vampire returns to the cemetery and watches as he strolls off among the gravestones. The lieutenant tries to follow his spy, but loses him among the stones and myst. He happens, however, to end up at the closed stone casket of Caleb Croft.

On a whim, Eric lifts the lid over the casket. He steels his nerve to open the casket itself, only to find it empty.

Before he can ponder this, Croft comes barreling out of the darkness and starts to strangle our cop! He punches Eric out, knocking him unconscious. Arranging his head just so, Caleb slams the stone lid down on Eric's head!

Eric's head is taken nearly clean off. Croft opens his shirt, and starts drinking from the stump.

Commentary: Holy crap. Obvs, Croft's dhampir son is going to be the guy to take down his father, but I did NOT see such a major character dying less than 30 minutes into this! And, I liked Eric Panzer, damn it. Not enough to make him my movie-boyfriend, but he was alright.

Scene 22: Months later, Leslie goes into labor. With her distrust of the doctors due to her physician telling her that her growing baby was actually dead, and Olga's particular venom toward established medicine, a home birth was chosen.

And only Olga is present.

After delivering a boy, Olga is ecstatic that the doctor's were wrong and he's a beautiful boy. His lungful crying upon having his bottom smacked as both women overjoyed. But as Olga is tending to the baby in the basket at the foot of the bed, her relief and excitement turns to confusion. She keeps trying to smile for Lez' benefit, but she's noticed something wrong with the squalling infant.

Olga puts the baby in Lez's arms, and his mother comments on his grey skin... it's so grey. Olga suggests that maybe they should call Doctor Ford, but Leslie is adamant that the doctor not come near her and her baby. She insists that the baby's skin color will improve as he gets strong. Olga doesn't fight her on it, and both women push their worries aside, as the infant proves to have strong lungs.

Scene 23: Sometime later, in her room, Olga watches Leslie in her rocker with worry. She insists that they need to call the doctor, while Leslie is just as firm that there will be no doctors. Olga worries the baby is going to die because he's refused to take milk, but Leslie just tells her to bring the baby to her.

Leslie tries desperately to get the baby to breast feed, but he's just not interested. She wipes away dribbled milk with a rag, but as she does so she cuts herself with a fruit knife. Some blood splashes on the baby's face, and she notices his sudden interest in that.

With a growing sense of understanding, she drips some blood directly onto her baby's lips, and he immediately laps it off of his mouth. Staring at Olga's horrified face, Leslie takes the fruit knife and slices her breast. The infant feeds.

Leslie sings as her baby sucks her blood, and Olga is transfixed with revulsion.

Commentary: This scene was very well done, even around the wavering color thanks to the cheap copy on the DVD. It was also played really well by Kitty Vallacher as understanding creeps over her. Lieux Dressler as Olga also did a great job with her worry over the baby's health, and then this scene where she watches in transfixed horror at Leslie cutting herself to feed the infant.

Scene 24: With the baby's diet understood, his mother takes to withdrawing blood by syringe to put in a baby bottle.

Scene 25: Time passes with the baby growing into a little boy. Olga has stayed with Leslie, helping to raise our-as-yet named boy, feeding him blood and keeping him out of direct sunlight.

He grows up, watching other children playing in sunlight he can't abide.

Commentary: The mutha-effer's name still isn't shared. I'm assuming from the IMDB listing him at the top that he's growing into William Smith, which should make the brat's name, James Eastman... presumably Paul's last name that was never established, even though clearly he's a Croft and Leslie must've come to that knowledge pretty quickly.

Scene 26: We skip forward years to James(?) as an adult, attending the funeral of Leslie.

James VO's for us his intent to find the monster that spawned him and destroy him. James tells us that his father had a habit of moving place to place among college campuses looking for nubile, young ladies to feed upon. He's been tracking him down for years, but his father has managed until now to stay one step ahead of him. But he senses a circle closing around them, bringing him to the confrontation he's been search for since his mother's premature death.

Commentary: Very strange that he doesn't at all mention Olga, who would surely be considered a co-parent. It's also very weird how there was no follow up on Eric Panzer's brutal murder, just suddenly ending the whole Panzer/Duffy animus with zero closure.

It's almost like there were three arcs going on: Panzers, cut short. Leslie/Olga's: One died, which is definitely a conclusion, but one just left a dangling thread. And now starting a brand new one with Caleb's vengeful son.

I'm also not quite understanding James' desire for killing Caleb. Did Leslie or Olga tell him the entire sordid tale? I guess they'd have to in order to explain that he can't let anyone know that he has to survive on blood, but a scene with Olga making this explicit, and then one of her asking him not to risk his life to hunt down the vampire but understanding his need to would've been nice to properly conclude her role.

Scene 27: James has followed his father into another college campus, where he takes an extension course to blend in naturally on the campus. His first day, a woman named Anita Jacoby takes a fancy in him.

[Because obvs we can't have a simple vengeance story. There just MUST be a treacly love story.]

Joining the talkative Anita is her roommate, Anne Arthur who seems to be whom James will actually end up with.

The two girls make eyes at James. [It's uncomfortable because it's so sudden. They're like jackals. James looks a bit nonplussed by the obvious interest in him.]

Scene 28: We skip forward to late that night as we see Croft stalking the campus for someone vulnerable. Caleb calls out to a Sara, appropo of nothing. He's joined by a woman taking an interest, but she's apparently not Sara. Who she is, is a woman who suggests she has a place they could go, without a how-do-you-do, suggesting - possibly - a working girl.

Caleb Croft just stares at her with an intense silence, that she should be taking as a danger sign. She finally gives up, and walks off with a smirk.

Sensing someone behind her, she turns to see Caleb walking after her. However, instead of thinking he's taking her up on her offer of going to a place, she rightly thinks the guy is a creep and tries to rush away. This only makes Caleb quicken his step to keep her in sight.

Now frightened, our woman turns on her heel to confront Croft, taking a bottle from a nearby trash can and breaking it before threatening him with it. He continues that awful, intense, silent stare. He gives her fang-face, and attempts to slice him up. But he's able to grab her arm, and wrestle her to the ground. As she pleads, "no, no, no!" Caleb forces her hand, still holding the broken bottle, to stab down into her own throat.

Commentary: I liked this scene, as well. The character of Caleb has been interesting as he's had no dialog up to this point, and there is a certain amount of frisson to scenes like his silently staring, and staring with no words.

And again, despite having fangs - these are not the weapon to gain access to the victim's blood.

I do have an odd... complaint is too strong a word... but I kinda wish that we hadn't gotten to grown-up James until the last half hour; I was more engrossed in Leslie and Olga raising a dhamphir child than what is happening now that we've time jumped.

Scene 29: Following the attack on the random woman, Caleb now joins James' extension class [and quite the popular one it is], revealing he's been playing teacher on this campus crawl he's been doing while James has been stalking him.

Caleb goes under the name of Adrian Lockwood, and is teaching comparative myths. We spend some time as he plays the arrogant, nearly-rude professor and speaks about Deep South myths brought from the Caribbean, and back further to Africa.

Caleb lists a string of myths we believe in when we aren't surrounded by our comfortable science and modern tech. Among them, he avoids mentioning the vampire, so James does so anonymously from the crowded room. Caleb agrees that is also a myth we've believed, barely thrown off by James' interruption.

Caleb soliliqoy's on the turnout to his class at night, and wonders if the students gathered here because they're afraid of something - a dread they can't name, as he walks among the row of desks. When he stops at Anita's desk, she names the shapeless dread the professor is speaking of as death. So Caleb goes on to talk about how death has always been the driving fear of humanity [Are we really going to sit through a whole lecture in real time?].

Next stop along the row of desks is Anne Arthur, a professor of literature, and as Caleb has been speaking about the emotional reactions to death, and our knowledge of our own mortality, he notes Anne's fear of the subject.

James butts in again, this time not so anonymously, and Caleb/Lockwood recognizes the voice as the one who's interested in vampires. James explains this away as writing a paper on Charles Croyden, a name Caleb recognizes. He tells James that the name isn't generally known and invites him to share the history of Croyden with the class, which James does.

17th Century nobleman, who along with his wife, were rumored to be vampires. They fled from the Church of England and traveled to The Colonies, where he was suspected in a string of gruesome murders. His wife was burned in Salem as a vampire. Croyden was never found, which James shares with a pointed look at Croyden/Croft/Lockwood.

There is some verbal sparring between Caleb - speaking that if the myths were true, then Charles Croyden must still be alive [which doesn't follow, but never mind] & James questioning why such a creature - supposedly filled with the power of Satan - would have to hide and scurry around like a rat.

[The room is really bouncing around, now. They're in the midst of a moderately bad earthquake, but haven't noticed as the class is finding the banter between Caleb and James so compelling. /s]

Commentary: Okay, I get why we're doing this scene and all. Death, myths, the vampire, James pointedly - but without Caleb knowing - calling him out as Charles, and a coward all at once; BUT - I'd have preferred James as hunter in the dark, rather than talky-talky-talky in a classroom. It's interesting, because I keep thinking we're farther into the movie than we actually are - and yet - I'm not bored. The movie hasn't been a painful view [excepting Mill Creek's usual anti-effort] & yet I do wish we'd get to the final battle already. I think the issue isn't really the story as presented, so much as the focus on Caleb vs. James when I'm still stuck on Leslie and Olga's part in James' story. They're the ones that I was becoming fascinated about and now they're gone due to a time skip and Olga's disappearance with explanation.

Scene 30: The intensity of James' verbal jabs at Caleb intensify at bit now, as Caleb tries to explain that the vampire would have to remain secreted in order to avoid the violence of self-righteous men. But James says that surely a man of Charles' strong personality would feel compelled to stand over the puny humans around them [such as 'Lockwood' is doing right now, standing over his students... I get what you did there, James; But I wish you were a less-talking bad ass instead], like Caleb Croft.

Caleb doesn't bat an eye and offers he doesn't know that name, but Anita does. She tells the class about the murderer and rapist. She tells them that he was electricuted to death in the 30's, but his body disappeared. There was a detective who had notions that he was a vampire, but the officer was killed near the tomb where Caleb had been buried before the body's disappearance. The detective had been drained of all of his blood. She further says that all of this had been published already in a book that had linked Charles Croyden to Caleb Croft.

James observes that Adrian seems very interested in Caleb's story, and Caleb returns that if James stays in the class, he may find his interest even more intense than he bargained for.

And, thankfully, the bell rings.

Commentary: Oh, man. The closing verbal spear between the two characters was some really awkward and nonsensible retort.

Of course "Mr. Lockwood" would be interested in a story connecting Charles [whose history he knows] with Caleb [whose history he's pretending not to know], so James' "clever" attempt to draw the vampire in by pointing out he seems too interested doesn't work with a crap.

And Caleb telling James that he may become far more interested in Caleb Croft than he imagines must be coming across as a bizarre statement that doesn't make a bit of sense. Because, in context, it doesn't. Since Caleb doesn't recognize James (or at least hasn't had any signs of doing so), his 'parry' is entirely a non-sequitor.

Scene 31: Sometime later, Anne has stayed behind to thank Lockwood for the interesting class that evening. She doesn't comment on his sitting in the near-dark, for some reason [And why this scene had to be filmed with no lights - other than spooooky ambiance is a question... in context, it doesn't make sense, either. Oh wait, there is it: He invites Ms. Arthur to come in... into the small pool of light that he's sitting on the corner of his desk under. Because double meaning, or something equally pretentious and also wrong. If they were going for a metaphor, she should've been crossing from light into darkness, surely? Unless the movie's viewpoint is that Caleb, a murderer and rapist in addition to his vampirism, is the villain-protaganist? That could be an interesting twist, if our scenes with James now present him as a monstrous, callous hunter without a care of the people he could hurt around him in this vendetta...].

Anyway, Anne congratulates Adrian on his being so compelling and keeping the students' attention so deftly. She admits that she has trouble with that in her own lectures.

Adrian tells Anne that she didn't come there to discuss her students, as he reaches out and takes her by the chin. She does seem compelled by the aura of Charles/Caleb/Adrian [I'm a little disappointed they didn't stick with the C.C. naming convention for our vampire: he should've been Cole Campbell]. Adrian tells Anne that at his first sight of her, she reminded him of his wife, Sara [why he was calling her name while standing in the night, is still weird] but then he saw beyond that, and (apparently?) was immediately drawn to her as she was (apparently?) to him.

They have (um, an awkwardly stilted kinda-maybe) conversation that implies they may both be interested in a love-connection, but Anne is feeling vulnerable and unsure. And after apologizing to her for his being so compelling [! yes, really] allows her to leave.

Commentary: Okay, this scene just doesn't work for me. The sound balance is off - Anne's shoes sounds like she's a horse clopping along the floor. The dialog is treacly and awkwardly delivered. And the whole "you remind me of my dead wife" is just too hoary a trope to have bothered shoving in here, where it wasn't needed.

I'm also not wild about the music. It sounds very public-domain, organ-heavy which gives the impression that we're watching a soap opera playing out, instead of a horror movie.

Tags: review grave of the vampire

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